What beck'ning ghost, along the moon-light shade
Being in a digital age, many artists have turned from using a paint brush or simply taking a photo to using Photoshop or other art software and using digital brushes or combining photos to create art. Artists like myself are photo manipulators. If you are one, you know what I'm talking about. If you're an art collector, you might be new to the concept.
I combine several images with various layers in Photoshop to create art that ranges from simple to complex (my largest piece used 85 different layers!). Most of the time I don't have a photograph that I can use to complete my vision and my drawing skills aren't the best, so I turn to stock and other resources to create my work.
But there are some dangers in using stock, and that's what I'm here to talk about today.
1. Using Google to Find Stock
If you're new to this kind of art creation, you might be tempted to just grab an image from a Google image search (or other search engine). DO NOT DO THIS! Most of the images you find will be copyrighted and using them will be a violation of the original artist's rights.
This also goes for finding pieces on DeviantArt or other art websites. Most of the work in places like these will retain their copyrights unless the artist specifically says otherwise. Better safe than sorry. Don't use something if you aren't sure if you have rights to it.
3. Safe Stock Websites
There are a number of safe website to use and some that are sketchy. Websites like Pixabay are usually CC0 - which means you can use the stock there for anything. Also note that if you decide to share your stock there for others to use, if you change your mind and delete your account, the stock will probably stay with Pixabay (etc) because once you open your stock for use, whoever downloads it will probably not go back to check if the stock is still open for use - but here's where the danger lies:
4. Unsplash and other sharing sites danger
I found out the hard way that some websites do take down stock images. I was creating a new book cover and used a piece of stock I had saved from a while ago. It was perfect! I store my stock by subject and then source so that I can go back to the website where I've added the stock as a favorite. Many places I share my work (like DeviantArt) ask for the stock use to be linked back. This particular piece of art was no longer on Unsplash. I couldn't find it anywhere on the internet from the original artist, though many websites were still using the stock on their websites. Because I could not verify that the stock was still CC0 and free to use for commercial use, I had to find another piece of stock to use. I hated having to find a new piece of stock, but my limited resources (i.e. company financial reserves), I used what I could. I won't be using Unsplash in my work again. This was the resulting piece (temporary title/author for display):
These are where I would actually go for a commercial commissioned piece. You buy the stock from Shutterstock (etc.), but you have to pay a license fee to use it for your intended purposes. Some artists on DeviantArt also have a policy for being paid for their stock for commercial work, but allow it to be free for personal art creation. It is important to make sure you have the proper rights for the image you are using. Otherwise, you could face litigation from the artist. Stealing is never ok!
6. Copying other artists
I've had this happen to me. I post a piece of art listing the stock I used and another artist collects the images and then recreates the piece I made and shares it as their own. This is not ok. You can be inspired by other artists, but copying their work is basically stealing their vision as an artist. It cheapens your work and makes you look like a fraud. By all means, use someone's work as inspiration or use a stock image they used to create something unique and totally your vision.
7. Fine Art Galleries and Stock Use
Being exhibited in an art gallery has been a lifelong dream of mine. I recently submitted some of my work for a juried competition and international exhibition. Not only being extremely anxious about the quality of my work being good enough, I also worry that using free stock could be looked down upon. I want to be able to take original images for my work, but have certain limitations to do so. I'm waiting to hear back from the curator to know if I was good enough, but I'm hoping that using stock won't keep me from becoming an accomplished artist.
I hope I was able to answer a few questions or concerns you might have had concerning using stock in your images. I know I wasn't able to find much info on the web when I had them! All in all, if you doubt you have rights to use an image, then don't use it. Better safe than sorry!
If you find a piece of art I have contains an image that is no longer CC0 - please let me know! I don't want to infringe on anyone's work!
Feel free to post a comment or question and I will answer as best I can. I'm not perfect, but I want to help other artists the best I can.
BY ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,—
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
She wrote these words after she encountered a grieving widow. She gave comfort to the woman as she cried, but Ella was on her way to a ball and while there was overcome with sadness from the widow.
This poem at first seems to encourage those who are sad to overcome their grief, but then concludes that we all will have pain in our lives and others will not be able to comfort us. I have experienced this and while isolating ourselves can be detrimental to our mental health over the long term, solitude is not the same as loneliness. Solitude is a chosen condition to work through our emotions while loneliness is a feeling of wanting to be with others, but unable to do so. Solitude can be a symptom of depression and those who find themselves often withdrawing from the company of others may need more than some time alone.
I created this piece from a couple of stock images (I hope to have resources soon to take original photos for my art) and wanted to convey the darkness that is felt when grieving. It can be so all consuming that we feel we will never recover. Some people don't. They give into the grief and are never the same. It is my hope that all those who are grieving or suffering from depression will find comfort and relief so that they may once again enjoy all the beautiful things this world has to offer.
I had such a great time last week with the Saxton family for a sweet and fun mini session. It was really hot, even later in the day, but the kids had a blast! I love little sessions like this that are long enough for fun, but not too long for the kids to get bored. Little Mulberry Park is a huge area with several entrances and I found this "secret" one that had a nice field that had not been mowed yet this season! There was a perfect little tree up the hill that cast a nice shady area for us to settle into. The best part is that they could go around the corner to the playground after for the kids to play! I will definitely be heading back to this little spot again in the future!
Last fall I had the fortune of having a family drop in to my fall mini session event. It was just the dad, Ralph, and his little boy, E. I took the most adorable portrait of E. Ralph mentioned at the time that his wife was a dentist and would be needing new photos for her practice soon. I was excited for the opportunity to work with her.
Christmas came and went and 2018 started off with me being ill and unable to run my business, but just as I was feeling better, his wife, Erin called. She was taking over her mother's dental practice in Grayson and they were updating the name to Heritage Family Dentistry as well as the website. Including new headshots, team photos and an outside image of the location was her priority. Having a mobile studio makes this a great fit for me because I'm not tied to a physical location and can set up anywhere.
We looked ahead and the weather was cold with a bit of rain expected, but we set the date for a few weeks out and though it was a mostly cloudy and windy day, it turned out perfect. They close early on Thursdays and I came in just as they were wrapping up the day. I set up in their office with my lights and used a gorgeous rock wall in the lobby for the backdrop on the headshots - it would flow with the website colors she had picked out and give a visual reference for new patients when they entered the office.
For the group photo we went to a nearby park. I wasn't sure about where to set-up, but then the suggestion came out to use one of the huge oak trees - the symbol for the new practice is an oak tree and it made perfect sense! The ladies all looked so lovely and organizing them around the tree was a challenge as it was not the most pose friendly location, but I think the final shot came out wonderful! Each of these ladies has such a beautiful personality and are just the warmest, kindest people you could hope to work with. The wind did pose a bit of an issue, but thankfully we did the group photo after headshots so that the close-ups were as perfect as possible.
I also took a shot of Erin with her mom. It was so heartwarming to see a strong love between them. The practice was built by Kathy and passed on to Erin, so it made sense to include a photo of them together. The name of the practice, Heritage Family Dentistry, truly fits!
After the ladies headed out for the day, I walked around the main outside area of the office. As a newer building, it featured offices above and retail below with a few restaurants that had tables set up. Because of the wind, the umbrellas on the table could not be opened and there was quite a bit of the famous Georgia green spring pollen on the black awnings, but I was able to clean those up in Photoshop. The main goal for the outside photo was to help new clients find the location on the upper level in a corner. The only signage being on the upper side of the building. I decided to climb up on a brick wall to get a better view with my wide angle lens so that I could prominently position the sign. There was a perfect break in the clouds, giving a swath of blue sky just over the building, but the remaining light cast only light shadows on the buildings, making the resulting image just gorgeous.
I could not have asked for a better group of women to work with. Erin and her team at Heritage Family Dentistry are the kindest people I have ever met and if I lived in the area, I would use her as my dentist! If you live nearby, I suggest trying them out for your dental needs!
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© Kathleen Wright Imagery
Hi, I'm Kathleen! I'm a photographer, digital artist, and mom of two. I love to travel and spend time with my kids. I'll mostly be sharing recent photo sessions on my blog, but might have a few other articles here and there. Thanks for joining me!
Recent PostsMemory - Atlanta Digital Fine Artist The Danger of Using Stock in Art - Atlanta Digital Artist Solitude - Atlanta Fine Art Photographer Saxton Family - Little Mulberry Park - Gwinnett Family Photographer Heritage Family Dentistry - Gwinnett Business Photographer Hairston Family Session | Suwanee Family Photographer Emeric Family Session | Duluth Portrait Photographer Sneak Peek - Emeric Family | Gwinnett Portrait Photographer Amazing 2017 Fall Mini Sessions | Gwinnett Children's Photographer Canvas Ornaments are Awesome! | Gwinnett Family Photographer